Publications
Emma's Graveyard Moan: Thomas Hardy's Elegies for his Dead Wife Print E-mail
Essays and Memoirs

Hardy and Emma(3QuarksDaily November 2, 2020)

In 1874, Thomas Hardy married Emma Gifford, a woman who never let her novelist husband forget that she was born of a higher class than he, ever his superior in taste and breeding. After her death he got back at her—poetically—in a big way. And she at him.

The pair began with a pre-marital affair, fervent and soulful, as intellectual companions; not long after, they were quarantined in thirty-eight years of a childless and mutually regrettable marriage. When Emma died of a bad heart and impacted gallstones (she wrote treacly poems, many published, and suffered from delusions of grandeur), Hardy at sixty-two composed a loose sequence of verse, “Poems of 1912-1913.” These twenty-one rhyming, pithy elegies, among the finest in English, conjure the ghost of his first wife as the means of grieving his loss in a fatalistic anti-theism that feels downright religious.

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A Plurality of Traditions: Anthony Davis and the Social Justice Opera Print E-mail
Criticism

central park five(Los Angeles Review of Books October 17, 2020)

Anthony Davis, winner of the 2020 Pulitzer Prize in Music for his opera The Central Park Five, is a composer with a great future behind him. Five is his eighth opera, and during those labors, spanning four decades, he’s found the time and talent to write orchestral pieces and music for plays, to record solo piano albums, to gig widely, and to make records with his group, Episteme. Under the microscope, Davis, who is 68 and a professor at the University of California at San Diego, reveals a rare strain of the American composer’s DNA, a synthesis of the diasporic music of African descendants and the uncompromising voice of contemporary opera.

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Between the Numinous and Me Print E-mail
Essays and Memoirs

cloudscape09

Bangalore Review, September 20, 2020)

Every author gets asked—cornered, perhaps—to say succinctly: What’s your book about? Two ex-cons murder a family of four in Kansas and, after the crime and the criminals are sensationalized, especially by the author, they’re hung. Oh, were it so simple. How do I corner the subject I chose—spirituality and the writer? Because of its unwieldy focus, I can’t reduce it to an elevator speech. Can I keep it to a thousand words?

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Quiet City: A Reverie for New York in the Time of Covid-19 Print E-mail
Essays and Memoirs

Screenshot48

(The Sembrich Online, September 11, 2020)

The gestation of Aaron Copland’s Quiet City was anything but quiet. In 1939, novelist Irwin Shaw—later praised for the TV serial, Rich Man, Poor Man—wrote a play with the same title. It was workshopped by Elia Kazan and the Group Theater, a communal ensemble from which the Actor’s Studio later took wing. The “experimental drama” follows a once-idealistic young man who leaves Judaism, changes his name, marries a socialite, and achieves wealth running a department store. His materialist dream, however, leaves him morally empty.

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Here's That Rainy Day: Hard Times for San Diego County Cities Print E-mail
San Diego Reader

20200806(San Diego Reader August 6, 2020)

San Marcos City Manager Jack Griffin begins his annual June letter to the mayor and city council, “It is kind of my pleasure to submit the Fiscal Year 2020-2021 Operations and Maintenance Budget.” That “kind of” summarizes the sour monetary mood facing San Diego’s 17 county cities and their managers in the new pandemic normal. The economic pain of dwindling revenue varies by city and its relative affluence, but the losses are universal. Since March, taxes on hotels, entertainment, bars and restaurants, even car sales and pot shops, typically about a third of a city’s spending base, have fallen—and, as people remain largely at home, will continue to fall.

As a result, most previously funded departments and staff, though spared, are being pared: social services snipped, capital projects deferred, full- and part-time workers furloughed or laid off, new hires frozen, libraries closed, recreation programs reduced, street repairs delayed, and parks dark. No municipality can cut salaries and benefits for firefighters and police; cities are contractually bound.

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To Play With Reptiles All Day Print E-mail
San Diego Reader

20200729(San Diego Reader July 29, 2020)

To hold a small Anaconda, it’s best to spread your hands out like spatulas and let the snake lie there, feeling supported. If the serpent doesn’t feel buoyed in your hands, it will squirm and droop like it’s upside down, which, from its spatial orientation, it is. The snake has a belly—the lighter colored half underneath—and the belly wants to be down, if not on the ground, then grounded. Otherwise, it curls and twists, not because it has it in for you (revenge!) but because the creature is trying to get away, that is, out of midair and back to the security of its burrow or enclosure. Once you brace the writhing beast from below, snake and handler calm down—find, as it were, common ground.

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Masking the Unmasked: A Modest Proposal Print E-mail
Articles

image(Times of San Diego June 28, 2020)

Has it really come to this?

The “Freedom to Breathe Agency” is issuing “face mask exemption” cards, which state that the bearer is not required to wear a mask as it’s a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Of course, ADA officials have granted no such exemption. Such is just one of countless desperate idiocies in which half of Americans won’t wear masks, believing the requirement treads on their individual rights.

OK, the unmasked have individual rights. What’s that got to do with a pandemic, which is, end of June, becoming tsunamic with more than 45,000 new cases each day, the majority now among the young?

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